Thursday, November 4, 2010

10 Things Thursday: 10 Things to Buy for the Cook/Kitchen

The Story Behind 10 Things Thursdays
For most of us there will be some level of gift shopping to do in the coming weeks. On each of the 10 Thursdays from October 21, up until the day before Christmas Eve, it is my goal to present 10 ideas, in 10 different themes, for eco-friendly gifting. Many suggestions will be places I know or products I've purchased or received. One hundred ideas by no means makes a comprehensive list. But it's a start. Suggestions for future lists are most welcome. Here is List 3:

Earth to Table: Seasonal Recipes from an Organic Farm

1. A cookbook. Earth to Table: Seasonal Recipes from an Organic Farm is a recently published beauty with very good reviews. Those who know The French Laundry might be interested in Ad Hoc at Home, recipes from Thomas Keller’s less formal restaurant. Some favorites from my own cookbook collection include: The Art of Simple Food, Simply in Season, Claire’s Corner Copia Cookbook, and Recipes for a Small Planet.

Lodge Pro Logic Cast-Iron 14-Inch Pizza Pan
Lodge pizza pan
2. A cast iron skillet or specialty pan. Lodge is the only remaining American manufacturer of cast iron pans. (You can check out my blog post: Pan Love for more info on these pans.) Lodge pans are durable and reasonably priced. The Lodge pizza pan and enameled dutch ovens (the one line of Lodge products imported from China) are favorably rated in comparisons with products by Mario Batali and Le Creuset, and in my research, the Lodge products come with a smaller price tag. The company has an excellent website and helpful customer service. Often, though, the Amazon price is better.

3. Stainless steel baking pans and cookie sheets. These are becoming increasingly hard to find. With stainless steel cookware cakes and cookies bake uniformly, and cleanup is a breeze as long as you don’t use a sharp utensil. Stainless steel is more expensive than aluminum but will last a lifetime. Norpro has a good selection of heavy gauge stainless steel pans. I own a couple of them. Norpro is a wholesale dealer, but look for their line at your local Ace Hardware Store. I know that Blossom Hardware in Mountain View, CA carries Norpro products. See if your local store owner will special order for you if you don’t see the pan you want on the shelf. [Since I first published this post, I have discovered (from a Google contextual ad) an online independent retailer,, not owned or operated by Norpro, which carries over 1300 kitchen and home entertainment items, including the Norpro line. The site offers a 180 day replacement guarantee, free shipping on orders over $59, and a 10% discount on your order if you submit a recipe.]

Vic Firth Mario 12-Inch Peppermill, Cherry
 Vic Firth
William Bounds Key Mill "WB-1" Pepper Mill
William Bounds
4. A pair of salt and pepper mills. I know of two fine lines, one on each coast. In the West, check out William Bounds Limited, a family business started by Bill Bounds, inventor of an innovative mill mechanism that evenly crushes peppercorns, rather than grinding mill components together. High-quality mills are available in a number of materials and finishes, including hand-painted art pieces. In the East, Vic Firth Gourmet offers mills, shakers (and rolling pins) hand-crafted in Maine from the finest American hardwoods. The company is an outgrowth of Vic Firth’s first venture. Firth, a timpanist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, began manufacturing his own highly acclaimed drumsticks some 40 years ago: he has brought his commitment to quality and his woodturning expertise to this gourmet line.

Oxo 1069228 OXO Good Grips 15-Piece Everyday Kitchen Tool Set5. Kitchen Tools and Accessories. I recommend OXO, a company started by housewares entrepreneur Sam Farber in response to his wife’s difficulty using ordinary kitchen tools due to a slight case of arthritis. The first group of 15 ergonomically-designed OXO tools was introduced in 1990. Today there are over 850 products in many categories from cooking and baking to storage and organization.

6. An Immersion Blender. I have a Bamix® wand mixer. This handy appliance takes up a minimum of space and allows you to purée soup right in the pot, eliminating the need to pour it into a blender in batches. You can whip cream or froth some milk in seconds. It also chops and grinds. It cleans in seconds. Bamix® products have a ten year warranty.

Goodbye Detergent GDB100 Original Spaghetti Scrub, 2 Pack, Coarse
Spaghetti Scrubbers
iSi Museum of Modern Art Pan Scraper, Red
MOMA Pan Scraper
7. Scrapers and Scrubbers. The Museum of Modern Art Pan Scraper, designed by Martin Puryear easily disassembles for hand washing. Its nylon blade rotates as you scrape the pan and does an excellent job of cleaning without scratching. Spaghetti Scrubbers, made in Japan of recycled corn cobs (the coarse version) and peach pits (the gentle one), are long lasting and dry quickly (limiting bacteria and mold) and require very little soap to get the job done.

8. Keepeez Vacuum Lids. Available in sets, these lids turn your existing dishes into vacuum-sealed containers, allowing you to store leftovers and perishable items without plastic wrap. The material resists tears and puncture. Pressing the lid’s center seals dishes airtight.

9. Vanilla from C. H. Baldwin & Sons in West Stockbridge, Mass. The Baldwin family has been making extracts since 1888. The Baldwin site claims their vanilla extract has been made in the same solid copper percolator and aged in the same oak barrels, using the same recipe and Bourbon vanilla beans for over 65 years. The Baldwins make other extracts and a table syrup. The vanilla is what I know best: I pick some up each November when we celebrate Thanksgiving with my sister and her family in the Berkshires. C.H. Baldwin & Sons was featured on Martha Stewart in 1999. The store is a great place to visit, but you can also order online.    

10. US Ark of Taste, a program of Slow Food USA, is a catalog of over 200 foods in danger of extinction. Slow Food USA teamed up with LocalHarvest to create a directory of Ark products. You can shop online for a variety of foods and other goods, nearly 8500 in all! by category. By entering your zip you can find the distance your purchase will have to travel to arrive at your door. You might be lucky enough to find out the source is right around the corner!

1 comment:

  1. This year I'm asking for a tofu press. A must have for any serious vegetarian. When I first saw them, I wondered if I really needed one, but the more I cook with tofu, the more I realize that having one of these nifty things would be really good...and really improve the dishes I want to make for ALL my meatless days :-)